Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Welcome to Author Mike Mullin.


Mike Mullin’s first job was scraping the gum off the undersides of desks at his high school. From there, things went steadily downhill. He almost got fired by the owner of a bookstore due to his poor taste in earrings. He worked at a place that showed slides of poopy diapers during lunch (it did cut down on the cafeteria budget). The hazing process at the next company included eating live termites raised by the resident entomologist, so that didn’t last long either. For a while Mike juggled bottles at a wine shop, sometimes to disastrous effect. Oh, and then there was the job where swarms of wasps occasionally tried to chase him off ladders. So he’s really hoping this writing thing works out.
Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife and her three cats. ASHFALL is his first novel.

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
I’d bring one of these, ‘cause I don’t want to stay on the island forever:

I’d bring a reverse osmosis hand pump, ‘cause I like fresh water.

And I’d bring one of these. Mmm, sushi:

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
I’d love to be a shifter, à la Sam in Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire/True Blood series. The opportunities would be amazing: to turn into an eagle and soar on the warm updrafts, explore the depths of the ocean as a shark, or even just to experience the world as a dog, with a sense of smell millions of times more acute as my own.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Oh, wait, Häagen-Dazs Pineapple-Coconut. Or Turkey Hill Black Cherry. Or Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip. I can’t decide. Obviously I like ice cream WAY too much.

Night owl, or early bird?
Night owl.

One food you would never eat?
I tried Durian fruit once—I couldn’t get over the petrochemical taste, so I don’t think I’ll be eating that again. I’m a very adventurous eater. I’ve tried termites and I’d be willing to eat them again. They’re not bad roasted with a little butter.

Skittles or M&Ms?
M&Ms! Since my wife’s name is Margaret (and I’m Mike) everyone decided to give us M&Ms for our wedding (along with boring stuff like china). We wound up with about 12 pounds of them.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I spoke to the kids incarcerated at the Cedar Rapids Juvenile Detention Center on October 26th. The detention center has a small but well-chosen library of young adult titles, and reading is considered so important that each kid is required to have a book on hand at all times.
My favorite moment of that presentation was at the end—the first kid out the door laid down the book he’d carried into the library and picked up ASHFALL. The library only had two copies, so there was an immediate clamor from the kids behind him, and the staff had to make him leave ASHFALL behind until they had a chance to raffle off the rights to be one of the first two kids to read it.
Before we left, my host, Amanda Zhorne from the Cedar Rapids Barnes & Noble, generously donated five more copies of ASHFALL to the detention center’s library so that the kids wouldn’t have to wait as long to read it. Amanda is a force for underprivileged kids in the Cedar Rapids area and currently a Library Science student. She’s going to be a fabulous librarian.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Money should flow from the publisher to the author, and the good kinds of self-publishing are free. The come-ons are endless: we love your book and want to publish it, but you have to buy 100 copies. Or two copies of the poetry anthology. Or share in the marketing costs. Or pay a low price of $299. Don’t fall for it—they’re all scams.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I started out wanting to be a firefighter (natch). Later I wanted to be a pro football wide receiver like Lynn Swann. That guy was indestructible! Then I went through a ballet dancer phase. (I had a crush on a ballerina, what can I say?) In high school I thought I’d be a newspaper editor. I even tried it out for a while, publishing and editing an underground newspaper titled The Middle Finger. I thought I might like to be a politician (puke!) until I served as a Congressional Page in the sausage factory that is Washington D.C. In college I decided I’d be a marketing executive. I actually did that one—it’s as soul-sucking as it sounds. I’m really enjoying writing full time. I can do it thanks to my extraordinarily patient and well-employed wife. (Thanks, honey!) Maybe one or two of you would buy ASHFALL so I can keep writing? I love this career!

How do you react to a bad review?
I love most of my bad reviews. The first time I got a one-star review, I wrote a blog post titled Why Bad Reviews Rock. Since then, I’ve often linked to and promoted bad reviews along with the good ones. The only kind of bad reviews that bother me are the ones that denigrate teenagers. I’ve gotten reviews that claim no teenager could be as good at taekwondo as Alex. (I’d love to see the author of that review spar with Ben Alexander, the 15-year-old third-degree black belt who inspired Alex.) I’ve also gotten reviews that claim teenagers can’t handle the content in ASHFALL. (Also not true. There are certainly some teens who won’t enjoy ASHFALL due to the graphic violence, but most appreciate the realism of the story.)

Write a Haiku about your book
Wrecks Alex’s weekend home alone
But he meets Darla

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the Earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when the supervolcano erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter. When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait—to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

Giveaway Details
1 signed copy of Ashfall
Open to US only
Ends 1/16/12

WINNER: Sophia Rose